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News

Copa grows to Chicago

Copa Airlines will add three more flights by the end of the year – to Chicago, Asunción (Paraguay) and Cúcuta (Colombia). In 1992, Copa created the Hub of the Americas at Tocumen International, initially connecting to 12 cities in the Americas. With the recent announcement the offer has grown 57 destinations.

Flight scheduling has been re-arranged to accommodate the growth. In mid-June, when Copa inaugurated flights to Toronto, Brasilia, Nassau (Bahamas), and Porto Alegre (Brazil), its four flight banks (time slots when many planes land to allow quick connections), were increased to six. The earliest flights originating in South America now land in Panama around 7:00 a.m., allowing business travelers to attend early appointments in cities like Miami and Bogota.

The Hub of the Americas offers more international flights to more destinations in the Americas than any other connection center in Latin America.

Sales launch of new Hotel Golden Tower

Hotel Golden TowerAn image of the recently-announced Hotel Golden Tower in Panama City.

The Colombia-based developer Global Hotels & Resorts has launched sales on condo-hotel units at the new 30-story Hotel Las Américas Golden Tower. The property is projected to open in 2014 at Calle 53 on Balboa Avenue with 285 rooms and an investment of $60 million.

The developer, which has two properties in Cartagena, will maintain ownership of 50% of the rooms, a move that according to marketing manager Ana Judith Paniza shows confidence and interest in Panama City as a strong destination.

The tower, whose launch imagery shows a gleaming gold-colored exterior, was designed in a vanguard style by architect Carlos A. Ott to capture attention and become a skyline icon of the capital.

Construction, reported the company, will begin at the end of this year. The sales office should open in August.

International coffee connoisseurs rate Chiriquí’s world-famous beans at “Best of Panama” tasting

Boquete’s top-scoring coffee
Owner Variety Points
Benjamín Osorio
Familia Peterson
María Luisa Berard
Casa Ruíz
Café Kotowa
Gonzalo Rojas
Héctor Vargas
Gonzalo Rojas
Geisha
Geisha
Geisha
Baby Geisha
Caturra, Typica
Pacamara
Geisha
Typica
92.30
91.70
90.68
89.80
89.29
89.09
88.63
88.02

This year marked the 15th edition of the “Best of Panama” coffee tasting competition in Boquete, Chiriquí. Coffee tasters from Panama and around the world sipped, scored and selected the best coffees from this increasingly well-known specialty coffee production area.

As Boquete coffee producer Gonzalo Rojas explains, Panama’s specialty coffees gain ground in the international market each year. “The quality of our coffee keeps improving and we want to show the world that Panama has the best coffee,” he said, explaining that Chiriquí’s diverse micro-climates are the key for such flavor perfection.

This year’s favorite varieties and first-place winners were the Geisha and its derivatives, which are original to the Chiriquí Highlands.

New IB school to open in 2012 at Panama Pacifico

A new school, Panama Pacifico Academy (PPA), was announced this week. A private bilingual school for children of all ages, it will be opening in August 2012 for its inaugural academic year. The Academy will be located in the London & Regional development which bears the same name, located at the site of the former Howard Air Force Base opposite Panama City on the other side of the Canal. Many families expected to fill this planned mixed-use community in the coming years. The school is setting out to satisfy the foreseen increase in demand for international caliber education in the area.

IB Education

Education at Panama Pacifico Academy will aim to create what Director Wendy McArthur calls “a world-class International Baccalaureate (IB) institution where young learners will be empowered to make a positive difference in the local and global community.”

mascot of the new Panama Pacifico Academy

The Mascot

The mascot of the new Panama Pacifico Academy has already been chosen. Students at this new IB school will be the Raptors.

The school believes its keys to success will lie in the implementation of the renowned IB curriculum, in combination with a heavy investment in highly trained teachers from around the world. Studying in classes of 15 to 22, students will learn not just basic school subjects, but long-term skills such as communication and critical and creative thinking, which will serve as the building blocks for the lifelong process of education PPA is beginning.

Wendy McCarthurPanama Pacifico Academy Director Wendy McCarthur announcing the new school earlier this week.

Community

Students will be expected to be active their community, and, conversely, parents will be invited to get involved with school activities. On the first Wednesday of every month, classes will end early so students and staff can participate in an organized community activity. These projects will instill a sense of social responsibility and value as a member of society in each graduate of the school.

Enrollment

The admission process will begin on July 15, 2011. Pre-K through Middle School Students will be accepted for the 2012-2013 school year, with further grade levels being added in subsequent years. PPA follows an international school calendar, which begins in August and ends in June. Students transferring from schools with alternative calendars will be placed in the most recently completed grade level, though an assessment test may be administered to move some students forward.

Additional information can be found at www.ppa-panama.com.

Expocomer 2012

Chamber of Commerce announces dates for 30th version of big trade fair

Expocomer 2012
Federico Humbert (President of the CCIAP), Madeleine Lopez (Director of Events CCIAP) and Carlos Rodríguez (President of the Organizing Committee Expocomer).

The Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP) has announced the dates for the 30th version of Expocomer 2012, a major international trade show which is the biggest in the region. Companies from over 30 countries will carry out an intense commercial exchange that includes business meetings, business conferences and closing transactions valued at hundreds of millions of dollars from March 21 to 24 at ATLAPA Convention Center.

Handicrafts, folklore earn international distinction for the Panama Calendar

Panama CalendarThe Panama Calendar editor Carmela Gobern with the Merit Award won by the 25th edition of her calendar dedicated to events and holidays in Panama.

The Panama Calendar 2011, which this year celebrates its 25th year of publication, was recently awarded a distinction by the Calendar Marketing Association, an organization based in the US. It won a Merit Award for Most Original in the World Calendar category.

The editors of the calendar Alonso and Carmela Gobern selected the National Handicrafts Fair as the theme for this year’s edition. In addition to lots of cultural and educational information, the calendar features 32 color photographs taken by Allan Hawkins and Alonso Gobern at the 2010 fair, displaying the wide variety of Panamanian arts and crafts that are representative of the country’s traditions and folklore.

In addition to their annual effort with the calendar, the Goberns are also promoters of tourism in Panama, sharing news of people and events in their bi-monthly on-line publication, the Panama Cyberspace News and arranging tours and excursions to different parts of the republic. The calendar can be viewed and ordered on-line at www.panamacybernews.com.

The cost of the calendar is $6 and at this time of the year it is also available by contacting goberncl@cwpanama.net or at Libreria Cultural in Perejil (223-6267), Artesanias Panama La Vieja, Local 5, ground floor (6080-1462), with Doris Barberia Pio in Parque Lefevre (224-3584) and Salon de Belleza A Cut Above, Plaza Albrook (315-1597).

"La Mar" celebrates two years in Panama amidst rave reviews

Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio’s ceviche restaurant La Mar Cebicheria in El Cangrejo is celebrating two years since opening in Panama. Known for fresh ingredients prepared in the chef's signature Peruvian style, the restaurant has grown into major acceptance among Panama City diners.

But locals are not the only ones raving about La Mar. In a New York Times report called '36 Hours in Panama City' published this year, La Mar is recommended as a must-visit. And in April, Chef Gastón was honored by San Pellegrino sparkling water in London for having one of the top 50 restaurants in the world, Astrid y Gastón, the flagship brand of Grupo Acurio which also owns La Mar.

For reservations, call 209-3323 or visit lamarcebicheria.com for more information.

Daily flights on the horizon

Iberia celebrates 40 years of flying to Panama with positive destination data

Iberia celebrates 40 yearsIberia's International Sales Director Ángel Valdemoros is positive about growth for the Panama destination.

As Iberia celebrates its 40th anniversary of flying to Panama, the Spanish airline has announced that the country has become one of the most dynamic markets in its flight network. Since last October when the airline began direct flights, the number of passengers has increased by 56%, and seat occupancy has been at an 82% average.

Data from the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) shows a 4.1% increase in passengers from European countries since the beginning of the year during the first quarter of 2011 compared to 2010.

The airline's International Sales Director Ángel Valdemoros says, “Iberia is totally committed to Panama. It is a very important market for Iberia; since we began flying to the country we have not stopped growing and last October we began to operate four weekly direct flights. Our short term objective is to fly daily between Panama and Madrid.”

Iberia celebrates 40 years
Iberia has been flying to Panama for 40 years.

Iberia flies Airbus A-340 planes for its Panama flights, which feature the recently-remodeled Business Plus section, with 220 cm of personal space and seats that convert in completely horizontal beds.

The airline has launched a tourism promotion campaign for its Panama destination on social media networks. Since May, articles about Panama are being published in the airline's Twitter and Facebook accounts. Contests have also been put in place to test the knowledge of cyber-surfers about Panama in order to win prizes. More information on these contests is available on Iberia's blog megustavolar.iberia.com or directly on Facebook.com/iberia or in Twitter.com under the alias Iberia Airlines.

Isthmian Update

Some of the news in Panama

FDI grows
Growth in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) grew 20% during the first quarter of 2011 was $746.6 million, $128.4. The total million more compared to the same period in 2010, when it stood at $618.2 million.

GDP up 9.7%
The performance of the Panamanian economy in the first quarter of 2011, measured by Gross Domestic Product Quarterly (GDPt), showed an increase of 9.7% compared to the similar period a year earlier.

Martinelli campaign promise count
Rounding out the first two years in his five year term, President Ricardo Martinelli’s Secretariat of Goals, has revealed that around 24% of his promises are “at risk of not meeting” or “do not meet the current rhythm.”

Training program to meet labor demand
Over the next seven years about 86,000 people will be trained to meet the demand for labor in different sectors, it was indicated in a preliminary report of the National Business Council (Conep). The demand will focus on the areas of technology and information technology, construction, hotels, the Panama Pacific Special Economic Area of Howard, and mining, said Felix H. Cuevas, vice-president of the Panamanian Association of Business Executives (APEDE).

More news >>

Chiriquí tremor
An earthquake measuring 5.3 degrees on the Richter scale struck at 11:34 am last Sunday, just south of the city of David in Chiriquí province. The website of the Institute of Geosciences of the University of Panama said the quake occurred 113 kilometers from David at a depth of 10 km.

CFZ Users’ elections
The Colon Free Zone Users’ Association held elections on June 15 to select the 2011-2012 Board. After expiration of the term to receive nominations on June 1, the nominee list was headed by Mr. Severo Sousa of PFI Zona Libre, SA as President; First Vice-president Surse Pierpoint, Colon Import & Export, SA and Second Vice-president, Victor Valdivieso of Supro World SA.
Accompanying them are the following directors elected at the meeting:_Secretary, Luis Carlos Chen, Vanities Zona Libre, SA; Undersecretary, Isabel Fernandez, Motta International, SA; Treasurer, George Punjabi, Punjabi Brothers, Inc.; Treasurer, Nidal Hachem, Milano International SA.

Chilean mission
Distributors, wholesalers, industrial representatives as well as buyers and importers from the Republic of Chile visited the Panama City on a mission to promote their products, to show their high quality products, including wines, fruit, grapes and apples and many more at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Agriculture of Panama

$1 billion in loans
In its two years of rule, the administration of Ricardo Martinelli has contracted with multilateral institutions loans for $1.144 billion.

Too many onions
So far in 2011 growers in Panama have lost 30 million pounds of onions by overproduction, resulting in a loss of approximately $2.5 million.

Noriega likely to return home soon
France reports to be preparing to decide on the extradition of former dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega. According to French Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bernard Valero, there will be notification of the extradition decision in one month’s time, and if there is no trial cancellation Panama “should be organized quickly to take up the case” of the former strongman.
The United States gave its consent for former dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega to be extradited from France to Panama.
Former President Martin Torrijos said he was confident that Noriega’s return would not divide the people of Panama. Torrijos, the son of the deceased General Omar Torrijos who began the dictatorship which Noriega took over, argued that during his administration, they did everything possible to ensure that Noriega returned to Panamanian soil.Minister of Government Roxana Mendez reported that a special cell is being prepared for Noriega at El Renacer prison in Panama City to accommodate the former general’s mobility problems.

$2 million more for ATP campaign
Following a request made by President Ricardo Martinelli, the Cabinet approved a draft Addendum to inject $2 million more into the international advertising campaign of Panama dubbed "Where the World Meets."

Executive powers discussed at APEDE constitutional meeting
On a forum of the Panamanian Association of Business Executives (APEDE), entitled "Amendment to the Constitution: a topical issue of national interest", it addressed the separation of powers, and some speakers suggested reducing the powers of the Executive and other modifications in the judiciary.

National Assembly presidency puts pressure on political parties
The differences between the members of the Panameñista Party and the Democratic Change Party (CD) for the presidency of the National Assembly have resulted in direct attacks with names among the allies of the government. The controversy reached such a point, that deputy Jose Isabel Blandon, a Panameñista, reminded his colleague Hector Aparicio, who is the candidate for the CD as President of the Assembly, that he became deputy vice president because of Panameñista Juan Carlos Varela, the country’s Vice-president, with the promise of help to summon the votes.

Geography and history experts to meet here
More than 18 members of the Institute of Geography and History (IPHG) will meet in Panama to discuss topics such as land use, climate change and natural disasters. Panama is represented at this meeting by members of the National Geographic Institute Tommy Guardia (IGNTG) who indicated that in some years the country will have to change its territorial maps, especially on the islands of San Blas due to rising sea levels.